Metastatic tumor-in-A-Dish, a novel multicellular organoid to study lung colonization and predict therapeutic response

Prabhu Ramamoorthy, Sufi Mary Thomas, Gaurav Kaushik, Dharmalingam Subramaniam, Katherine M. Chastain, Animesh Dhar, Ossama Tawfik, Anup Kasi, Weijing Sun, Satish Ramalingam, Sumedha Gunewardena, Shahid Umar, Joshua M. Mammen, Subhash B. Padhye, Scott J. Weir, Roy A. Jensen, G. Sitta Sittampalam, Shrikant Anant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Metastasis is a major cause of cancer-related deaths. A dearth of preclinical models that recapitulate the metastatic microenvironment has impeded the development of therapeutic agents that are effective against metastatic disease. Because the majority of solid tumors metastasize to the lung, we developed a multicellular lung organoid that mimics the lung microenvironment with air sac-like structures and production of lung surfactant protein. We used these cultures, called primitive lung-in-a-dish (PLiD), to recreate metastatic disease using primary and established cancer cells. The metastatic tumor-in-a-dish (mTiD) cultures resemble the architecture of metastatic tumors in the lung, including angiogenesis. Pretreating PLiD with tumor exosomes enhanced cancer cell colonization. We next tested the response of primary and established cancer cells to current chemotherapeutic agents and an anti-VEGF antibody in mTiD against cancer cells in two-dimensional (2D) or 3D cultures. The response of primary patient-derived colon and ovarian tumor cells to therapy in mTiD cultures matched the response of the patient in the clinic, but not in 2D or single-cell-type 3D cultures. The sensitive mTiD cultures also produced significantly lower circulating markers for cancer similar to that seen in patients who responded to therapy. Thus, we have developed a novel method for lung colonization in vitro, a final stage in tumor metastasis. Moreover, the technique has significant utility in precision/personalized medicine, wherein this phenotypic screen can be coupled with current DNA pharmacogenetics to identify the ideal therapeutic agent, thereby increasing the probability of response to treatment while reducing unnecessary side effects. Significance: A lung organoid that exhibits characteristics of a normal human lung is developed to study the biology of metastatic disease and therapeutic intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1681-1695
Number of pages15
JournalCancer Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Metastatic tumor-in-A-Dish, a novel multicellular organoid to study lung colonization and predict therapeutic response'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this